King of New York (1990)

R | 103 mins | Drama | 1990

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HISTORY

Although the film was shot in the United States, King of New York was entirely funded by the Italian production companies Reteitalia and Scena International, according to various contemporary sources, including Var on 5 Apr 1989 and DV on 18 Jul 1989. As reported in Var , the film had been in development for four years at both New World Pictures and Universal Pictures. While Universal passed on producing the film, they retained right of first refusal for its distribution. According to DV , director Abel Ferrara was confident Universal would pick it up, but the film was ultimately distributed by New Line Cinema and Seven Arts. On 12 Sep 1989, HR reported that King of New York was considered “completely American” by its Italian financers. Producer Augusto Caminito stated in HR that Scena International intended to use the film as a “bridge” between Italian cinema and the film industry in America, and referred to the story as “a modern day Robin Hood.” According to DV , test footage and casting for King of New York began in 1981, but Ferrara had since changed the concept of the story and screenwriter Nicholas St. John was rewriting the script. A 28 Oct 1990 LAT article noted that Ferrara and St. John met during high school in upstate New York, where they began their careers as filmmakers by creating 8mm shorts. The men collaborated on five feature films before King of New York .
       Ferrara mentioned that in the film’s developmental stages, it ... More Less

Although the film was shot in the United States, King of New York was entirely funded by the Italian production companies Reteitalia and Scena International, according to various contemporary sources, including Var on 5 Apr 1989 and DV on 18 Jul 1989. As reported in Var , the film had been in development for four years at both New World Pictures and Universal Pictures. While Universal passed on producing the film, they retained right of first refusal for its distribution. According to DV , director Abel Ferrara was confident Universal would pick it up, but the film was ultimately distributed by New Line Cinema and Seven Arts. On 12 Sep 1989, HR reported that King of New York was considered “completely American” by its Italian financers. Producer Augusto Caminito stated in HR that Scena International intended to use the film as a “bridge” between Italian cinema and the film industry in America, and referred to the story as “a modern day Robin Hood.” According to DV , test footage and casting for King of New York began in 1981, but Ferrara had since changed the concept of the story and screenwriter Nicholas St. John was rewriting the script. A 28 Oct 1990 LAT article noted that Ferrara and St. John met during high school in upstate New York, where they began their careers as filmmakers by creating 8mm shorts. The men collaborated on five feature films before King of New York .
       Ferrara mentioned that in the film’s developmental stages, it was not well received in the United States, and even though Universal paid for the script, he did not believe they read it. Ferrara stated that when his film China Girl (1987, see entry) opened in Italy, Penta Films was eager to produce the film after learning that Christopher Walken was committed to the project. Penta Films, however, is not listed in the credits. While HR stated on 12 Sep 1989 that the budget was set for $8 million, LAT reported that film was made for $5.3 million. In the LAT article, Ferrara claimed to have used the location of the Plaza Hotel free of charge because Ivana Trump was a fan of Christopher Walken. Ferrara noted that he did not have a budget for drivers, and his cast arrived on set by subway, however there are six drivers listed in the credits. Other shooting locations included Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, as stated in DV on 18 Jul 1989. According to Var on 5 Apr 1989, the film was set to begin production on 17 Apr 1989.
       As reported in DV on 1 Aug 1990, the film initially received an X rating from the MPAA, but Ferrara won his appeal with the Classification & Ratings Appeals Board to change the rating to R.



The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Dan Muchnik, a student at Emerson College, with Eric Schaefer as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1989.
---
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 1989
p. 3, 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1990
p. 8, 15.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1990
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1990.
---
New York Times
22 Sep 1990
p. 13.
Variety
5 Apr 1989.
---
Variety
21 Feb 1990
p. 306.
Village View
26 Oct-1 Nov 1990
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Augusto Caminto Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
Addl 1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Cam intern
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
3d grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst prod des
Story board artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Video ed
Asst ed
Apprentice
Apprentice
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop p.a.
COSTUMES
Cost des
Assoc cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
2d ward
Cost tech
MUSIC
Mus
Mus ed
Rec eng
Rec eng
Asst eng
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Rec and mixed at
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd p.a.
Re-rec eng
Dial ed
Digital sd eff
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Asst spec eff coord
MAKEUP
Key hair
Key make-up artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Creative consultant
Creative consultant
Prod supv
Loc supv
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Scr supv
DGA trainee
Picture cars
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Casting
Extras casting
Extras casting asst
Teamster capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Craft services
Parking coord
On set nurse
Scena representative
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Insurance
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Concerto for Violin Op. 8 #3 Autumn," by Antonio Vivaldi, arr. by Joe Delia.
SONGS
"Am I Black Enough for You?," written & performed by Schooly D, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Willesden Music Inc.
"Saturday Night," written & performed by Schooly D, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Willesden Music Inc.
"Strivin," written by Lavaba/T. Lewis, performed by Party Posse, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Zomba Enterprises Inc., ASCAP/Willesden Music Inc. BMI
+
SONGS
"Am I Black Enough for You?," written & performed by Schooly D, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Willesden Music Inc.
"Saturday Night," written & performed by Schooly D, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Willesden Music Inc.
"Strivin," written by Lavaba/T. Lewis, performed by Party Posse, courtesy of Jive Records, published by Zomba Enterprises Inc., ASCAP/Willesden Music Inc. BMI
"Dream On," words & music by Delia-St. John, Slymoon Pub. Co. BMI, performed by Freddy Jackson ©1989
"Rockabilly Willy," words & music by Ferrara, vocal by Haywood Gregory, Slymoon Pub. Co. BMI ©1989
"Piece of the Rock," words & music by Delia-St. John-Ferrara, Slymoon Pub. Co. BMI ©1989.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1990
Premiere Information:
New York Film Festival screening: 22 September 1990
Los Angeles opening: 26 October 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Reteitalia, S.P.A.
Copyright Date:
4 September 1990
Copyright Number:
PA524430
Physical Properties:
Sound
Spectral Recording Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Duart Film Laboratory
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Crime lord Frank White is released from prison and takes a limousine with two beautiful women to his home in New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Meanwhile, Frank's henchmen shoot Colombian drug dealer Emilio El Zapa in a phone booth, steal his suitcase, and leave behind a newspaper with an article about Frank's release. At a hotel, Frank’s operative, Jimmy Jump, pays cocaine dealer King Tito with a briefcase filled with tampons, and a gun battle ensues, leaving Tito and his men dead. Back at home, Frank is greeted by his men, who celebrate Frank’s return by reporting their victory over the Colombian drug dealers. They present him with Tito’s gloves and Zapa’s briefcase, which is filled with cash. Later, Frank meets his lawyer, Jennifer, and her associates for dinner. Claiming to be reformed, Frank expresses his desire to run for mayor and asks Joey Dalesio to connect him with Italian mafia boss, Arty Clay. While Frank flirts with Jennifer, Joey finds Clay at a restaurant and reports that Frank wants to meet. Enraged that Frank has taken out his Colombian clients, Clay refuses and urinates on Joey’s shoes as a warning. On an empty subway car, Frank and Jennifer kiss passionately as three gangsters attempt to rob them. After exposing his gun and tossing the men a stack of cash, Frank tells the thieves to come to the Plaza Hotel if they are looking for work. Back at Clay’s restaurant, Frank arrives and explains that he wants to be involved with Clay’s exploits, complaining that Clay took advantage of the street while he was in prison. When Clay ... +


Crime lord Frank White is released from prison and takes a limousine with two beautiful women to his home in New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Meanwhile, Frank's henchmen shoot Colombian drug dealer Emilio El Zapa in a phone booth, steal his suitcase, and leave behind a newspaper with an article about Frank's release. At a hotel, Frank’s operative, Jimmy Jump, pays cocaine dealer King Tito with a briefcase filled with tampons, and a gun battle ensues, leaving Tito and his men dead. Back at home, Frank is greeted by his men, who celebrate Frank’s return by reporting their victory over the Colombian drug dealers. They present him with Tito’s gloves and Zapa’s briefcase, which is filled with cash. Later, Frank meets his lawyer, Jennifer, and her associates for dinner. Claiming to be reformed, Frank expresses his desire to run for mayor and asks Joey Dalesio to connect him with Italian mafia boss, Arty Clay. While Frank flirts with Jennifer, Joey finds Clay at a restaurant and reports that Frank wants to meet. Enraged that Frank has taken out his Colombian clients, Clay refuses and urinates on Joey’s shoes as a warning. On an empty subway car, Frank and Jennifer kiss passionately as three gangsters attempt to rob them. After exposing his gun and tossing the men a stack of cash, Frank tells the thieves to come to the Plaza Hotel if they are looking for work. Back at Clay’s restaurant, Frank arrives and explains that he wants to be involved with Clay’s exploits, complaining that Clay took advantage of the street while he was in prison. When Clay threatens Frank as he leaves, Frank shoots him dead and invites Clay’s men to join his gang. Attending the theater with Jennifer, Frank approaches a city councilman and expresses his disappointment that an impoverished South Bronx hospital was cut from the budget. When the councilman challenges Frank to come up with the $16 million necessary to keep the hospital open, Frank agrees. At the theater’s bar, Frank is detained by three police detectives; Roy Bishop, Dennis Gilley, and Thomas Flanigan. Despite the protests of Frank’s chancellor, they take Frank to a deserted alley and show him Zapa’s body in the trunk of their vehicle. Frank claims ignorance about the murder and retaliates against Flanigan’s intimidation with a fistfight. As the detectives leave, they vow to bring Frank down. Later, Frank sends Joey to make a deal with Larry Wong, a Chinese gang leader who is trying to sell 220 pounds of cocaine. Meanwhile, Jimmy is arrested for the murders of the Colombians at a fried chicken restaurant, and Gilley and Flanigan tell him that they have a witness. Although Wong is wary, he meets Frank at the South Bronx hospital. Frank suggests that instead of selling the cocaine wholesale to dealers who will make a huge profit, Wong should front the drugs to Frank’s men on the street. Frank and Wong would then divide the profits between themselves and set aside funding for the hospital. Wong, however, wants $3 million up front in cash and says that Frank’s plan made him realize the extent of Frank’s madness. When Frank returns to the Plaza Hotel, Jennifer informs him about Jimmy’s arrest and he insists on posting the $1 million bail, despite her warning that the expense will cause more problems. After being released, Jimmy, Frank, and his henchmen head to Chinatown, where they engage in a gun battle with Wong's gang. When Wong reveals that the cocaine is hidden in barrels marked “MSG,” he is killed and hung upside down in the storeroom. Frank sells the cocaine to raise money for the hospital and holds a televised charity fundraiser. While Gilley, Flanigan and Bishop watch Frank on the news from a bar, they ironically pronounce him the “King of New York.” Gilley resolves to stop Frank by shooting him and pinning it on a rival gang, but Bishop warns Gilley that he will come after him if he breaks the law. After partying in his suite, Frank and Jennifer stroll along the balcony and he vows to change his life for the better in one year. Attempting to bring Frank to justice through legal measures, Bishop confronts Frank’s chancellor at a restaurant with images of the murders and tells him to turn Frank over despite their lack of physical evidence. In the evening, Joey takes undercover detectives to Frank's nightclub. Disguised as potential buyers, the police raid the warehouse and as Frank and Jimmy escape in Frank’s limousine, Gilley and Flanigan chase them through the rain-drenched streets and exchange gunfire. When Gilley and Flannigan lose the limousine, they slowly cruise the area and the limousine crashes into them. Flanigan chases Jimmy on foot, but Jimmy shoots Flanigan repeatedly. Arriving at the scene, Gilley fires at Jimmy. As Jimmy howls on the ground, dying, Gilley tries to resuscitate his partner. Realizing that Flanigan is dead, Gilley shoots Jimmy in the forehead. At Flanigan’s funeral, Gilley runs to his car in a fit of rage. A limousine pulls up next to Gilley’s car and Frank shoots Gilley dead. Later, Frank interrogates Joey. Begging for his life, Joey insists that he was set up by the police but then admits that he turned Frank over for the money, and Frank orders his men to bury Joey with his earnings from the bribe. Paying Bishop a surprise visit in his apartment, Frank explains that he is not like Tito, Zapa, Clay and Wong, who made their fortunes by exploiting vulnerable people. When Bishop confronts Frank about the murders he is responsible for, Frank claims that he never killed anyone who didn’t deserve it and says that he served half of his life in prison as compensation. Frank warns Bishop that he has put up a $250,000 contract on anybody involved with his investigation so that Bishop will know what its like to be a wanted man. Pulling Bishop’s phone from the wall, Frank says that the real problem is not dealers, but drug addiction itself, and he is just a businessman. At gunpoint, Frank orders Bishop to handcuff himself to a chair and leaves, but Bishop shoots the handcuffs off his hand and follows Frank onto the subway. Taking a woman hostage, Frank tells her that he doesn’t want to shoot her, but that he will, if Bishop’s actions force him to do so. When Bishop argues that the fight is between the two of them, Frank fires at Bishop. Although Bishop is wounded in the chest, he returns several shots. After Frank slowly leaves the subway station, walks the streets of New York City and gets into a cab, he lifts his hand to examine a gunshot wound in his stomach. Stuck in Times Square traffic, the cab driver watches police cars arrive and as Frank lifts his gun, the man runs from the cab and informs the officers. With guns drawn, police surround the cab. Frank’s head falls back and his arm goes limp as his gun falls to his side. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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